Congressman Bobby Schilling (IL-17) last week joined Illinois Congressmen Don Manzullo (IL-16) and Aaron Schock (IL-18) in sending a letter to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate Majority Whip, and Congressman Frank Wolf (VA-10), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. In their letter the Congressmen reiterate their support for the federal government purchasing the Thomson Correction Facility from the state of Illinois for use as a federal prison.
Schilling, Manzullo, and Schock wrote:
"Congress' bipartisan position that the Thomson Correctional Facility should not be used for detainees is well established. Congress has clearly and repeatedly enacted laws through the Defense Authorization and Appropriations process that bar the use of funds to transfer or release Guantanamo detainees into the United States, as well as prohibiting use of funds to construct, renovate, or expand any facility in the United States to house Guantanamo detainees.
"Unfortunately, the Administration is on record opposing these funding prohibitions. We will continue to work to preserve current law, which prohibits this transfer. It is troubling that the Administration has previously tried to bring these Guantanamo detainees to Illinois. Furthermore, the Obama Administration continues to oppose Congressional efforts to prevent this transfer. This opposition raises concerns about the Administration's future plans for these detainees and has unfortunately impeded the federal purchase of Thomson prison.
" We support efforts to reprogram funds within the Department of Justice so that the Thomson Correctional Facility can be purchased from the State of Illinois. However, a condition of this request is an unequivocal statement from the Administration that this facility would never be used to house individuals currently detained at the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Once this commitment from the Administration is achieved, we hope that both sides of the aisle can support this reprogramming of funds so that our overcrowded prisons can expand without the national security risks of bringing terrorists into the United States."
Schilling traveled to Guantanamo Bay Detention Center in January 2011 with members of the House Armed Services Committee, and has been a firm supporter of legislation to prohibit federal funds from being used to transfer detainees to the United States. He also joined Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Manzullo for a tour of Thomson Prison in March 2011. Schilling, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has also supported the Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 National Defense Authorization Acts, which prohibit the transfer or release of select detainees to or within the United States, and ban the transfer or release of those detainees to or within foreign countries without the Secretary of Defense's certification.
Schilling will today meet with Senator Durbin, where he will work to find a bipartisan path forward on Thomson Prison.